“I broke even at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe,” she told me, “so everything since then has been pure profit. Edinburgh is great for offloading actual physical books. People can still go on my website for a hard copy of the first one (now re-titled Magenta is the Warmest Colour), which I will happily smear my musky scent all over, should they want. But I can’t afford to print actual physical books this time, so it’s just on Kindle and people are a bit more reluctant to go onto Kindle. ”
“So why are you doing a second book? It’s all hassle for very little profit.”
“You could say that about performing comedy. Why do we do any of this? We must be mental.”
“Are you hooked on the writing?” I asked.
“Yes, I do I enjoy it,” Lindsay told me. “And I do enjoy long-form rather than writing short sets or articles.”
“What’s this second book called?”
“And you’ve written it, again, in your persona of Madame Magenta, the psychic?’
The blurb says: Magenta and the Arcati Killer is a comedy detective novel told from the point of view of its eponymous heroine, a woman of flexible morality, an array of tasteful turbans.
“So this is an adventure thriller?” I asked.
“A murder mystery comedy adventure thriller,” explained Lindsay. “Basically, it crosses as many genres as possible so it’s entirely unmarketable.”
“That,” I suggested, “should surely make it more marketable?”
“You would think so,” said Lindsay, “but apparently sitting on several fences at once is uncomfortable.”
“Your influences?” I asked.
“And,” I asked, “you are being Madame Magenta at the Edinburgh Fringe in August?’
“Yes. It’s a story. It’s a bit risky. I’ve done it like the book. I’ve plotted it as a full narrative arc with Madame Magenta telling the story, taking the audience on a journey. It’s not as joke-heavy as a club set. I have no idea if it’s going to work.”
“What’s it about?”
“The true origins of Christianity and the conflict in the Middle East.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yes. And it’s also going to be about gender politics.”
“Mmmm…” I said. “Are you doing previews?’
“One. I decided doing previews doesn’t help me. By the time you have an audience, it should already be in a state that’s alright. None of that writing-it-as-you-go comedian bollocks for me. I think comedians rely a bit too much on audiences telling them where they’re going wrong in the early stages.”
“People,” I suggested, “preview because they’re insecure?”
“Yes, but there’s this bizarre thing with comedy where you’re supposed to develop quite a lot of your material on the hoof in front of audiences. When I first started, I found that really bizarre because you’re getting away with it on charm a lot of the time and the type of laugh you will get when you are holding a piece of paper and being self-deprecating about the fact it’s not entirely working is a totally different type of laugh to the one you will eventually get when you’ve honed that joke. It doesn’t work for me. What works for me is using my own comedic intuition to get it as good as possible and then presenting it.”
“That’s more of a writer’s approach,” I suggested. “Writers don’t show potential readers their draft versions. Are you becoming a writer more than a performer?”
“I’m not getting the same buzz out of performing,” Lindsay admitted. “It used to be massive highs and massive lows. Now it’s all: Oh, alright. OK… I don’t know what it was I was getting out of it before that I’m not getting out of it now.
“Maybe part of my problem is I don’t necessarily want to appeal to a bunch of people who’ve had a few drinks and who would probably actually prefer to chat to each other because I am just part of their night out. It doesn’t bother me that much if they don’t like me – and that’s not good. I need to care if they like me and I don’t know if I do any more.
“Actually, about two years into performing comedy, I utterly lost interest in doing stand-up. So then I switched to doing characters, got a new burst of life and then it was almost the same amount of time after I started losing excitement in that too. I’ve had some really boring jobs where, for the first six months, I thought: This is alight. I don’t mind this. and then, one day, I just couldn’t be fucked with it any more.”
“You just married Laurence Owen last month,” I said. “Bad news for him in 2017.”
“Yesterday’s potatoes,” laughed Lindsay.
“Potatoes?” I asked.
“Isn’t that an expression?”
“I don’t think it is.”
“You were saying you lost interest in stand-up.”
“I don’t like it to be about me, because I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business. I don’t want to have to explain myself. I prefer stories about made-up stuff – though I don’t like the storytelling show stuff.”
“Because, again, it’s focussing on ‘real’ stuff and I find reality boring and depressing.”
“Boring and depressing?”
“Yeah. Although some comics manage to make it funny and uplifting. Only a few people can do that well, though. Know your own limitations. It’s not me. I’ve always preferred to live in a realm of fantasy. When I was a kid, I mainly read science fiction and fantasy. For a long time I sat down and tried to write ‘real’ stuff about me. That’s what supposedly works as a stand-up. But it’s not me.”
“Perhaps,” I suggested, “fantasy stand-up could be the new comedy.”
“I like John Henry Falle,” said Lindsay.
“The Story Beast…” I said.
“That’s sort of fantastical ludicrousness,” said Lindsay. “It’s much better than all that Oh, I’ve really suffered but it’s funny because now I can be self-deprecating but still cool. I think I like escapism.”